This is the Royal Lion of Gripsholm Castle, found in Sweden. He was one of the first lions to end up in Scandinavia when he was gifted to King Frederick of Sweden in 1731. He lived at the Royal Game Park in Stockholm, along with other large wild cats and exotic animals. After the lion passed away, he was eventually given to a taxidermist to be stuffed and put on display at the castle.
Considering it was the 1700s, the lion’s remains were left for several years, leaving only a pelt and a few bones to use, and like most Europeans, had never seen a real lion before, the taxidermist had his work cut out for him.
The taxidermist named him Leo and got down to it. The result being a mangled, cartoonish-looking cat. Narrow, centered eyes, almost bald mane, whiskers only on one side, huge goofy tongue, and giant human-looking pearly whites.
It’s theorized that since he couldn’t google what a lion looks like, he only had the lion that appears on the Swedish coat of arms for reference. When viewed directly from its side, like it’s in 2D like the crest, it doesn’t look as terrible. But clearly, Leo wouldn’t want to be tagged in any photos at an angle.
And for another interesting feline interpretation, check out this Tiger King Photoshoot.